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Netherlands — Top civil servant criticised for comments on unemployment benefit

11 January 2010
The recent comments by the most senior civil servant at the Economic Affairs Ministry, Secretary General Chris Buijink, that a reduction in the length of time income-related unemployment benefit is paid would be an important stimulus to find new work, particular among older workers, have been called too simplistic and even scandalous.

In Buijink's view unemployment benefit is paid for too long and is often used by the older unemployed as a bridge towards their pension. Christian Democrat spokesman Eddy van Hijum and Labour's Roos Vermeij told Dutch daily Trouw "it is too simplistic to say older workers would be encouraged to stay in work if their benefit rights were cut. Instead, efforts should be made to change the working culture and encourage employers to invest in their older staff."

Both also pointed out that people who have claimed unemployment benefit for more than one year are required by law to accept any job even if it is below their levels of qualification and education.

Leo Hartveld, spokesman for the FNV trade union federation, told Het Financieele Dagblad newspaper "it is scandalous that Buijink describes unemployment benefit as an attractive escape route for older workers. You don't choose to get benefit. You end up claiming it when you are organised out of your job."

For further information, see our article published on Friday: